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This the latest twist for the 82-year-old fish market, which sits on valuable real estate and has been slated to move since 2001. The major seafood trading hub will now be relocated to a specialty facility in Toyosu while the government cleans up and modernizes its original location — a process that may take up to five years. Once the upgrades — which include installing earthquake-resistant technology and refurbishing aging buildings — are complete, Koike indicated that Tsukiji may live on as a “food theme park” alongside the Toyosu location, where the wholesale fish market would continue to operate.
In the short term, the move could be disastrous for Tsukiji tourism; the new site is less accessible than the market’s current spot and is one of Tokyo’s most popular attractions. There are also signs that the fish sellers themselves are against a move: A report in March by Japan Times showed that more than 70% of wholesalers did not want to move to the Toyosu market, in large part due to fears that Toyosu, the former home of a gas plant, has contaminated soil — the government finished clearing contaminated soil in 2014.
What will ultimately become of the Tsukiji location is hardly clear. Koike did not elaborate on what she had in mind for a “food theme park” at her press conference detailing the move. Dreams of maki roller-coasters will have to stay dreams, it seems, for now.
Featured photo of Tsukiji Fish Market tuna auction courtesy of Tomohiro Ohsumi via Getty Images.
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